Step 4 of the Kerrigan method of ‘Writing to the Point’ – More on DETAILS and A CHECKLIST FOR REVISIONS

by Grace

A follow-up to the topic of THE IMPORTANCE OF DETAILS along with an introduction to A CHECKLIST FOR REVISIONS are covered in this post.  (This is the 18th post about my project to study and learn William Kerrigan’s Writing to the Point (WTTP) Six-Step method of writing an expository essay, first explained here.)  For a recap, here are Steps 1 through 4.

STEP 1. Write a short, simple declarative sentence that makes one statement. (Chapter 1, page 6)

STEP 2. Write three sentences about the sentence in Step 1—clearly and directly about the whole of that sentence, not just something in it. (Chapter 2, page 18.)

STEP 3. Write four or five sentences about each of the three sentences in Step 2—clearly and directly about the whole of the Step 2 sentence, not just something in it. (Chapter 3, page 31.)

STEP 4. Make the material in the four or five sentences of Step 3 as specific and concrete as possible. Go into detail. Use examples. Don’t ask, “What will I say next?” Instead, say some more about what you have just said. Your goal is to say a lot about a little, not a little about a lot.  (Chapter 4, page 43)



My previous WTTP post revisited the IMPORTANCE OF DETAILS, giving the background information about a new assignment.  This is worth repeating:

“Three-fourths of all good writing consists of details and plenty of them.”


In his book Kerrigan offers an 11-step checklist for revising an essay, a tool that is consistent with his approach of writing instruction that offers direct and precise guidance incorporated into a systematic process.  Here are the first few items from the checklist.

1.  Does the theme make a point?  (Step 1, Chapter 1.)  Does that point follow the ten rules for Sentence X?  (Chapter 2, page 28.)
2.  Do the paragraphs and their sentences keep to the point?  (Steps 2 and 3.  Chapters 2 and 3.)
3.  Do the paragraphs support the point with specific details?  (Step 4, Chapter 4.)
4.  Do the paragraphs support the point with examples?  (Step 4, Chapter 4.)


Write an essay on a subject of your own choice   As you write, be very critical of your use of sufficient detail.  When you have finished your draft, refer to the checklist in Appendix II, focusing on items 3 and 4, details and specific example….

This is the essay I wrote for the assignment:

X  Traveling is an excellent way to spend summer break.
1.  Traveling is enjoyable.
2.  Traveling is educational.
3.  Traveling strengthens relationships.


X  Traveling is an excellent way to spend summer break.

1.  Traveling is enjoyable.  Most people enjoy going to new locations as a way to get a break from their routines.  Although some choose extreme excursions and others prefer tamer travels, the opportunity to give the mind and body a taste of something different is agreeable to almost everyone.  Ascending to the top of Kilimanjaro gives the outdoor enthusiast a thrill not matched by the more familiar climbing that he does on weekends.  On the other hand, a relaxing week at a resort is just the kind of indulgent pleasure that appeals to other types of travelers.

2.  Traveling is educational.  A simple change in environment always teaches a traveler something new.  Perhaps a traveler will learn something as basic as the fact that he does not like a humid climate and too much free time.  Traveling to Paris, he may learn about French street fashion and the appeal of having a café au lait with brioche for breakfast.  A visit to Washington D.C. presents the perfect opportunity to learn more about American history and government.  Travel offers abundant learning opportunities of many different types.

3.  Traveling strengthens relationships.  Anyone who has traveled with family or friends knows that shared experiences in distant locales create unique bonding opportunities.  Whether it’s sharing a breath-taking view of the Grand Canyon or waiting in a long line for lost luggage, traveling companions often get to know and appreciate new aspects of each other’s personality.  That is one reason mother-daughter or father-son trips are highly recommended as a way to strengthen family relationships.

The benefits of summer travel include enjoyment, education, and enhanced personal relationships.


A writer should always be thinking about including abundant detail.  With practice this will become an automatic part of the writing process.  Using a checklist in the revision process makes it easier to cover all bases while ensuring that the correct habits are being reinforced.

You can check out all previous parts to this series by clicking THIS LINK to my initial post.

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